He was the most magnificent stallion a little girl could conjure up in her mind. A little more than a yearling and yet his coat glistened radiant ebony like black marble rubbed to a glossy shine. His long, slender legs held him well above her head. When he moved he danced gracefully on delicate hooves, with the proficiency of a well trained performer. His tail flagged attention while his luxurious mane hung in fine strands of onyx thread. Peeking through a forelock that coyly covered one eye he gestured a dare to harness his power.
The little girl that admired him saw many horses come and go. It seemed to be a pass time for her father to trade one for another but never took an interest in any of them. Unlike her parent, "Peanut" had a gift. She was born with horse sense. To her, looking into the eye of a horse was like gazing into an oracle, a divine communication between the two.
This stallion revealed fathoms of beauty, grace, and spirited gentleness that coursed through his veins like whitewater. Never before had she glimpsed such a beautiful specimen of equine profusion. In her heart she immediately claimed him as her own. She hoped her father would see her excitement and give in to her requests to keep him. Now if only she could conjure up the courage to do so. That night, snuggling deep in the covers of her bed she prayed for ownership. Drifting off, she dreamed of the midnight horse and rider thundering over the turf with synchronized movements like that of a fine old timepiece.
It was an obtrusive commotion that woke her the next morning. A cacophony of shouts, snorts and curses. She leaped from the bed and pulled cowboy boots over bare feet. Yanking a light jacket over pajama tops she raced out the door. The ground, still mushy from the spring thaw sucked her feet into the mud threatening to trap her wherever she stepped. But she was stalwart. Her young legs toned from riding, were no match for the gripping ground.
She raced toward the small red building. In her thoughts she condemned the structure. The construction was sound, the paint tolerable, but the stalls were anything but desirable for a sublime stallion such as Midnight Traveler. She slowed her advances as she approached the back quarter of the barn.
The cursing was more raucous now. Cautiously peering around the corner she caught a glimpse of Midnight straining against the irate, familiar man who constrained him. With head raised, the whites of equine eyes were clearly visible and terror spread his nostrils to receive great gulps of air. The girl wanted to run wildly into the fray and rescue the panicked yearling. But cruel consequences taught her not to interfere with an angry adult.
Helpless, she stood wide eyed and worried. A blur of ebony rose on hind feet, spiraled his head in the opposite direction of the tether and catapulted his forelegs into the air, nearly striking her father's skull. But in his gallant battle to be free of the abuse the juvenile stallion threw himself off balance and pitched toward the ground. Landing with a thud a fatigued horsey groan escaped his throat and he struggled to his feet. He stood level headed and confused. His once shiny black coat was caked in earthy matter and inky threads dripped with a miry mix of manure and mud.
Peanut's heart wrenched within her and she threw her hand to her mouth stifling sobs of sorrow. Turning, she ran to her secret place and wept until the tears would no longer fall. The pain she felt for the stallion's bruised spirit mingled with her own wounded one. She wondered if she would ever escape this horrid nightmare. Still, she felt compelled to ask for the midnight beauty. But she would wait yet another day.
Past sunrise the next morning she pulled herself from the warmth of her bed and scurried into her barn clothes. It was Sunday and silently she hoped this was one of those days when she would not have to attend Mass. Most times her father was in no condition to go to church. This day she would spend whispering secrets to the horse she desired more than any other.
Sliding open the stall door just slightly she peered into the darkness. Good morning Midnight she cooed keeping her voice soft and subtle. Then ever so slowly she made her way into the shadowy darkness to coax the nervous colt to be her friend. He twitched and snorted but she stood her ground gazing deep into the kindred spirit. After a few moments she extended her hand and unwrapped her fingers. A sugary white cube lay tantalizingly sweet in her palm and before long a velvety soft muzzle lipped it into his mouth. She reached to lay the softest breeze of a touch on his cheek when the stall door crashed open and an angry arm pulled her from the sweet caress.
Fear gripped her heart, tears pooled and rolled down her cheeks. She gazed into the bitter face of her father and forced the request from somewhere deep within her heart. But she could already read the answer in his eyes. The dark Traveler would never be hers and the bond she already possessed with him was rent from her. She felt her heart crack and the wedge in her spirit dived deeper, wounding her even more. By sunset the stall was silent and empty like her soul. The midnight she felt within would be with her forever.